Quest for a soccer title

Tue, 04/25/2006 - 1:03pm
By: Michael Boylan

The state soccer playoffs start today and while some local teams, like the region champion Whitewater and Starr’s Mill boys and McIntosh and Starr’s Mill girls open with home games, the rest of the locals in the playoffs are on the road.

Tonight’s games

Starr’s Mill (13-3) vs. Groves (9-7), 6 p.m.
The Panthers, ranked fifth in AAAAA, were once again region champions and that means starting the playoffs with a home game. All three of the team’s losses were to ranked opponents Walton and Harrison, ranked third and sixth respectively in AAAAA, and Woodward Academy, ranked sixth in AAAA. Starr’s Mill has a strong midfield that sets up a good offense and backs up a solid defense. The Panthers closed the season with six straight wins and have out scored their opponents 62-16 this year.

Groves has gone 2-4 in their last six games and does not have a great goals for/against differential, scoring 35 this season and allowing 27. They shouldn’t be overlooked though as eight of their game this year were decided by two goals or less.

Whitewater (13-4) vs. Warner Robins (12-3-1), 7 p.m.

The Wildcats, ranked second in AAAA, captured the school’s first ever region championship by beating Woodward Academy in penalty kicks. Goals were scored by Daniel Higginbotham, Brian Forero, Matt McCrite and Ryan Pugh while keeper Jordan Cooper made two key saves. Coach Shane Pulliam said that the win was important for the team as last year Woodward physically dominated them. He added that while the team didn’t have the best region tournament, they still won it and he feels good about his team’s prospects in the playoffs.

Warner Robins, which had a 10 game unbeaten streak dating back to Feb. 25, enters the playoffs having lost two games in a row. In the region semi-finals, the team lost to Upson Lee in penalty kicks and then fell to Hardaway 4-2 in the match for third place. They have outscored their opponents 45-15 this season and are 6-2 in games that have been decided by one goal.

Fayette County (13-4-1) @ Camden County (12-4-1), 4:30 p.m.

The Tigers opened the season with seven straight wins but had kind of a rocky finish to their season, losing to Newnan in overtime and East Coweta in penalty kicks and having their final game of the season, a game against Starr’s Mill, start and then get delayed a day, by rain. The Tigers have posted 10 shutouts this year and have out scored their opponents 75-18. They have a solid defense and a good midfield with a potentially explosive offense.

Camden County’s four losses all came before March 18. Since then they have gone 8-0-1 and have posted six shutouts in that time. Camden County has scored 62 goals this season and has allowed 24. Only one of their losses this season was to an opponent ranked in Class AAAAA.

McIntosh (12-4-1) @ Upson Lee (12-6), 7 p.m.

Penalty kicks have not been friendly to the McIntosh Chiefs this year. The Chiefs, ranked seventh in AAAA, fell to Whitewater 6-5 in penalty kicks on March 24 and lost to Woodward in the region semi-finals last week 3-0 in penalty kicks. The other two losses came early in the season to opponents from Class AAAAA. McIntosh might just be the most dangerous three seed in the AAAA tournament. They have posted 11 shutouts this year and have out scored their opponents 66-13. They have a good offense and a strong midfield and defense. They have already faced Upson Lee this season and beaten them 3-0.

Upson Lee is 1-1 in games that have gone to penalty kicks this year but since their six game winning streak started Feb. 21, they have gone 5-5, losing the region championship to Eagles Landing last week in overtime. The team has eight shutouts under their belt this year and has out scored its opponents 73-19 this year.

Tomorrow’s games

Starr’s Mill (12-2-1) vs. Camden County (9-6), 4 p.m.

The Lady Panthers, ranked third in AAAAA, closed out the season with a seven game unbeaten streak that included six shutouts. The team is healthy and enters the playoffs at full strength, which is something they haven’t been all year. Against ranked opponents this year, Starr’s Mill is 4-2-1 with their two losses being by one goal. They have outscored their opponents this year 61-12. The team has met two of their goals thus far this season; beat McIntosh and win the region. There is one goal left for the team and that is to win the state title.

Camden County went 5-4 in their last nine games and had a four game losing streak right in the middle of their season. The team enters the playoffs riding a three game winning streak and hasn’t been scored upon in that time. They have scored 42 goals this year and have allowed 16.

McIntosh (11-5-2) vs. Northside Warner Robins (9-7), 6 p.m.

This hasn’t been the typical season for the McIntosh Lady Chiefs, ranked third in AAAA, but so far the results have been the same. Though they opened the season with two losses and also had a three game losing streak in the middle, including painful losses to county rivals Starr’s Mill and Whitewater, they enter the state playoffs riding a seven game unbeaten streak featuring two one goal wins over Woodward Academy. They were also able to add yet another region title to their history and open the playoffs with a home game.

Northside Warner Robins is 3-5 in their final eight games and has lost two in a row coming into the state playoffs. That being said, they did produce a five game winning streak this year and they also got eight shutout wins.
Though they scored 44 goals and allowed 21, Northside could be a tough foe as five of their losses were by two goals or less. They will shoot to keep it close and keep the pressure on the Lady Chiefs.

Whitewater (10-5-1) @ Eagle’s Landing (11-5-1), 5:30 p.m.

Unfortunately, the meeting between these two teams scheduled for the regular season was cancelled due to conditions. Otherwise, we would have a good idea of how this game would play out. Whitewater, ranked seventh in AAAA, had hopes of winning the region this year but those were dashed with a 6-0 loss to Woodward last Wednesday. The Lady Wildcats bounced back and defeated Chapel Hill 4-1 and enter the playoffs with some momentum and as a sneakily good three seed. They have some offensive firepower and though they sometimes lapse on defense, their midfield is strong and their defense is generally good.

Eagle’s Landing opened the season with two losses and then went on a six game winning streak. Though they closed the season with two wins and two losses, they know they can put up some goals, scoring 78, and can keep teams off the board, posting eight shutouts and allowing 18 goals.

Fayette County (10-6-2) @ Windsor Forest (13-4), 5 p.m.

The Lady Tigers had a six game unbeaten streak in the middle of the regular season and came very close to at least forcing an overtime against East Coweta, a team that had beaten them 7-0 earlier in the year. In their final nine games, where they went 5-2-2, they outscored their opponents 14-7. All five of their wins were shutouts.

Windsor Forest went 1-3 in their final four games but had a nine game winning streak entering that final four game stretch. They have outscored their opponents 72-16 this season and have posted eight shutouts this year.

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